ONMS Science Needs Assessment Frequently Asked Questions

photo of an anemone with a kelp forest in the background

What is the ONMS Science Needs Assessment?

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) Science Needs Assessment is an evaluation of the science and information required to address the conservation issues facing each sanctuary in the National Marine Sanctuary System. Needs may include capabilities, data, analyses, and products. Information presented on this web interface defines current science needs for each national marine sanctuary and supports requirements defined in each sanctuary management plan.

What is the purpose of the ONMS Science Needs Assessment?

ONMS uses several key planning and evaluation documents to support the management of each national marine sanctuary. These include Sanctuary Management PlansSanctuary Condition Reports, and Strategic Science Plans.

The purpose of the ONMS Science Needs Assessment is to provide targeted information on the science information, datasets, analyses, and products required to effectively manage individual sanctuaries and the National Marine Sanctuary System as a whole. The assessment is designed to support ONMS science and management staff working to address information gaps and to communicate science needs to potential partners and interested organizations and individuals to direct investments towards priority needs and opportunities.

Who is the audience for the ONMS Science Needs Assessment?

The primary audiences for this assessment are potential partners and organizations, particularly those in the research, technology development, and funding communities, with which ONMS can collaborate to address the needs defined in the assessment.

The ONMS Science Needs Assessment also provides information to federal, state, and local legislative officials interested in the conservation issues and science requirements at a given national marine sanctuary or monument. For the general public, the assessment will provide information on the current conservation issues and science needs facing the National Marine Sanctuary System and promote understanding of the challenges our nation faces in ocean conservation.

What is the format of the ONMS Science Needs Assessment?

The ONMS Science Needs Assessment is built around the priority conservation issues facing each national marine sanctuary or monument. For each priority conservation issue where the ONMS needs science support, a two-page summary document was created. These documents, as well as additional supporting information, are posted on the ONMS website (organized by sanctuary) to enable easy access to the information.

For each two-page summary, science needs are presented in the context of a given conservation issue for which support is needed. Each document includes a description of the issue and the specific information, data, analyses, and products that ONMS requires to better address that issue. The standard components of the two page summaries are:

  1. Conservation Issue – a short statement defining the issue
  2. Description – background and overview information on the conservation issue
  3. Data and Analysis Needs – a list of the information required to fill current gaps in knowledge
  4. Potential Products – a description of the types of secondary products that can be created from requested datasets to better facilitate effective management (e.g., maps, models, reports, best practices guides, etc.)

Some sanctuary sites may choose to include additional information for one or more assessment documents, such as references or links to supporting materials, recommended scientific approaches or methods, lists of partners currently engaged in projects related to a given issue, and more.

How are the priority management issues identified? 

Staff at each national marine sanctuary or monument (including science, resource protection, and management staff) collaborated to identify the priority conservation issues for which ONMS needs the support of partners and collaborations. Primary sources of information used to identify and define the priority issues and the science and information needs were:

What is the level of detail provided in the ONMS Science Needs Assessment?

The information presented in each assessment is intended to provide a brief overview of the conservation issue and the associated information needs. Sufficient detail is provided to determine whether areas of potential partner expertise may align with sanctuary needs, and to promote discussions of collaboration and partner engagement .  The information in this assessment is not intended to be detailed enough to develop project plans or define specific roles and responsibilities of partnering organizations. Detailed discussions regarding any partnership or collaboration will be necessary to implement plans to address defined needs. To aid in facilitating these discussions, contact information for key staff and primary points of contact at each site is provided within each assessment document and on our webpage.

How often is the information updated?

The ONMS Science Needs Assessment is designed to be easily and readily updated. We aim to review the assessment annually, however updates may be made more or less frequently depending on site needs. Updates may be made as specific conservation issues and science needs emerge at a given sanctuary, or as needs are addressed through partnerships or collaborations. Dates reflecting the time of the most recent updates are listed next to each science need summary. 

For more information on the ONMS Science Needs Assessment, contact:

Sanctuary Site Contact List

Sanctuary System-Wide Contact:

Mitchell Tartt
Science and Heritage Division Chief
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Katie Lohr, Ph.D. (Affiliate)
Science and Heritage Coordinator
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation